The Business of Writing! The Art of Selling!
by Vincent Zandri
Back in 1922 a young writer who decided to move to Paris in order to pursue his muse was shocked to learn that many of the writers and artists who lived inside the famous city weren't really writers and artists at all. They were simply posseurs. Or posers.
People who sat about the cafes and pontificated upon the world of the arts, what was wrong with it, how they were going to somehow make a difference and turn everything that existed up until that moment onto its head. They would smoke and drink and drink and smoke, and talk and dress all in black and grow goatees and mustaches and they most certainly looked like writers and artists, but in the end they were a bunch of do nothing nobodies. Yet it was these same posseurs who came to hate the new eager young writer. In him they recognized something they lacked. He possessed drive. He possessed energy. He possessed ambition. And most of all, he possessed a talent that would only come to fruition from both hard work inside his writing studio and hard work selling himself as an adventurer and fearless sportsman to the general public. He was the real deal and for a long time, arguably "the most interesting man in the world." That young writer's name was Ernest Hemingway.
Just recently I attended a party hosted by a quote-"Artist"--unquote. Many artists were in attendance. Since I'm not an entirely anonymous writer and thriller author living in Albany, New York, I found myself the brunt of some backhanded jokes about my promotional "postings" for my recent bestsellers on the social networks. It was all supposed to be in good fun and I smiled and sucked it up. Ha Ha! The artists I'm referring too dress like artists. Long unwashed hair, chin beards, Salvation Army clothing. Some do yoga; some work in academia. One or two are extremely talented. A few others are talentless. They don't do gluten, and never, ever, do they utter a single non-PC word or phrase, unless of course, it's directed at someone not accepted inside their tight circle or someone they don't really like, such as a writer who not only spends his days writing but actively promoting his published work as though it were not an art necessarily, but a business.
But the truth is, writing is a business. Successfully selling your writing is an art.
My dad is going on 60 years in the commercial construction business. He is tremendously successful. He didn't get wealthy because he sat around talking about building. He didn't pretend to be a successful businessman by hanging around conferences, and country clubs, and ritzy bars buying expensive cocktails for pretty girls. He achieved success by working day and night, seven days a week. Often, he was scorned by other extended family members as being "all about his work." He was called "selfish" and "self-centered" by some of the very same people he put through school and later on, took care of financially. He wasn't so selfish then was he? I might not have followed in my dad's precise footsteps but I have learned an awful lot from him about running a business. His golden rule above all others? Work for yourself. Be your own boss, even if it means returning bottles and cans for the five cent refund for a while.
It's true, writing and the business of writing takes up a lot of time. Most of our time, that is if you are to pursue it to the best of your ability. And in my case, it can cost you dearly. I've been married twice and divorced twice. I still have difficulty maintaining a lasting relationship. I live in an apartment since I simply cannot keep up with a house. I travel often on assignment or out of pure wanderlust, because to sit in one place for too long is death for a writer. In a word, I am always working.
But the work is paying off in book sales that have quadrupled over the past year, and promise to quadruple again over the next six months. I am now lecturing to International Journalism students at the state university and in 2011 alone I will finish two new novels and write a good draft of another. I can't tell you how many articles, blogs, and digital shorts I will write but it will be a lot.
In the end, it's the work ethic that pays off. The follow-through, and finishing what you start. Just ask Ernest Hemingway. He is probably the best known of the Paris "Lost Generation." he is still a bestseller, nearly fifty years after his death. The posseurs who frequented the cafes and showed scorn for a "sell out" like Papa are long forgotten. They remain nobody. My dad, continues to run his business and works a 70 hours week at 75 years old. he is wealthy but he doesn't act like it. I also work everyday, whether I'm traveling or not. In the new era of writers having to promote themselves through social media, blogs, virtual tours, appearances, book trailers, and more, there is no end to what has to be done. Plus you have to carve out precious time to write and read. Tough to maintain a family life at the same time, yet my kids aren't complaining. They too want to be writers.
Oh, and as for those artists I mentioned before...They need to work day jobs in order to support themselves. I don't have day job. A real one, that is. I work for myself. I'm a writer.
About the Author:
Vincent Zandri is an essayist and freelance photojournalist, and the author of the recent bestsellers, The Remains, Moonlight Falls and The Innocent . His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT).
He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.
You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at www.vincentzandri.blogspot.com. Connect with Vincent on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VincentZandri, on Facebook at www.facebooks.com/vincent.zandri?ref=profile and Myspace at www.myspace.com/vincentzandri.
--Thank you for visiting, Vincent! -- Lea Ryan